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Benefits of Gamma Knife vs. Stereotactic Radio Surgery


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When I was first diagonised, a small brain lesion was identified and successfully treated with the Gamma Knife. Life went on without a glitch for the next 17 months, then two very small brain lesions were identified. Again, these were successfully (I hope!) treated with the Gamma Knife. (My follow up visit is on Monday.)

Here's my problem. When I was first treated, the doctor and hospital were both in network. By the time of the second treatment, they were not. I continued with the doctor hoping that no other lesions would be identified. We had a history and we are talking about brain tumors not a splitter in my finger. Apparently, there is only one other neuro-oncologist in NJ and my current physician did not know anything about his background. There were out of pocket expenses but they were manageable so we made the decision to stay with him.

The Gamma Knife treatment is another story. The bills are coming in and they are frightening. The doctor had made an arrangement with me that he would not charge us an amount that would result in an out of pocket expense which he did. The largest bill, however, is coming from the hospital which is totaling $2,000+. Besides this cash outlay, I am also getting very anxious about the lifetime limits on out of network charges.

So I need to consider other treatment options. I was under the impression that the SRS was frameless. While it isolated the treatment spot, the radiation was not as precise as the Gamma Knife thereby putting more surrounding brain tissue at risk. Am I correct? What have your experiences with SRS been like? We have one Gamma Knife site in NJ. Apparently, there is one in Staten Island, NY and one in NYC. Are you familiar with anyother sites in the NY - Northeast Pa area? Do you know of any other neuro-onocologists in the NY - Northeast Pa area? Apparently, SRS is more widely available and I think that the insurance company would argue that this procedure would be the one that I should pursue.

I guess I could tackle this with the insurance company given that there so limited availability of the Gamma Knife treatment option. Do you think that this a viable case with the insurance company? If so, how would you suggest that I approach them on this?

I feel like such a babe in the woods with this stuff any advice that you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


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I *think* SRS and Gamma knife are the same thing.

You could ask the dr about clinical trials, there are different radiosensitizers and a drug called Temador. *sometimes* clinical trials may be cheaper because they don't charge for certain things.

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/conte ... tearea=ETO

There are a few resources on the internet on how to deal with the insurance companies. Hopefully someone can help with


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Stereotactic radiosurgery is the name of the procedure. There are a few devices that perform that procedure - the Gamma Knife, the Cyberknife, and linear accelerator base systems of which there are many. The Gamma Knife is a the most precise device. Whether or not the slight increase in precision is important is controversial. I personally think that it is important but I do realize that it is my bias as I use one in my practice. The cyberknife is a frameless robotic system. Linac systems do use invasive head frames, like the Gamma Knife, for stereotactic radiosurgery. University of Pittsburgh is a leader in stereotactic radiosurgery. You may want to call a Gamma Knife center and they may be able to work with your insurance company.

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